In Michigan
4:42 pm
Fri April 30, 2010

MI Supreme Court allows indigent defense challenge to go forward

LANSING, MI –

The Michigan Supreme Court is allowing a challenge to the state's public defender system.

AUDIO:
The Supreme Court refused to dismiss the case, and returned it to the Ingham County Circuit Court. Now, the American Civil Liberties Union wants a judge to declare the case a class action lawsuit. The ACLU lawsuit says too many court-appointed lawyers are poorly trained, underpaid, and have caseloads that are too heavy.

Laura Sager is with the Michigan Campaign for Justice. She says state lawmakers can still avoid a court-imposed solution.

"They need to seriously step up to reform Michigan's public defense system," she says. "If they don't, really, the issue is going to be resolved in the courts."

But some legislative leaders on the question say they want to wait and see what the courts decide.

Independent studies have found Michigan has one of the worst public defender systems in the country.